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Staff Profile

Prof Jacqui Gabb

Prof Jacqui Gabb
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Professor of Sociology and Intimacy

Social Policy and Criminology


Before joining The Open University I worked in the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies (University of Huddersfield), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (University of Leeds) and the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies (University of Hull). I started academic life in the School of Media (University of Humberside).

I am Co-Editor of the Open Space section in 'Families, Relationships, Societies', an international journal published by Policy Press.

I am a Co-Director (with Dr Janet Fink) of the Families, Relationships and Communities Programme which is part of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG).

Other recent roles in professional associations include: Chair of the Editorial Board for the journal Sociological Research Online (2008-2011), co-convenor of the BSA Families and Relationships Study Group (2008-2011) and an Executive Committee Member for the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (2007-2010).


PhD Women's Studies/Sociology (York); MA Women's Studies; BA (Hons) Film & Television Studies

Course development and teaching

My teaching time at The Open University has been primarily focused on the development and production of postgraduate curriculum, particularly research methods. I was Module Team Chair (production) of Introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods (D849) and Module Team Chair (presentation) of Investigating the Psychological World (D821) and Investigating the Social World (D822).

Faculty research

As Associate Dean (Research) I am responsible for the Faculty Research Strategy. This portfolio includes managing REF2014 results and preparing for REF2020, and the coordination of Faculty Research Centres, grants bidding activity and research support.

Research interests

Interests centre on interdisciplinary psycho-social approaches for researching and theorizing intimacy and family life, with particular emphasis on the contemporary dynamics of policy, professional practice and personal relationships. I have longstanding interests in gender, sexuality and same-sex parent families research, and expertise in developing multi-method approaches to study everyday life and personal relationships including pioneering the emotion map method, a technique that is now widely used in family studies and proving to be a great asset in clinical practice and assessment with families.

Recently completed research includes an ESRC-funded investigation of the experiences, understandings and meanings of long-term couple relationships Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century (RES-063-23-3056). Awarded a Catalyst prize for ‘Engaging Research’ (2014), this project was developed through dialogue with relationship support organisations: Relate, One Plus One, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and CoSRT. The study has received high profile national and international media coverage alongside academic, policy and professional practice acclaim. Findings continue to provoke policy and public debate (Westminster Hall 14/01/2014), with invitations to participate in all-party parliamentary briefings, receptions and consultation events, including those at the House of Commons (April 2012, February 2013 and July 2013) and Labour Policy Review (2014).

The Enduring Love? project builds on the methodology and findings of a previous ESRC-funded project Behind Closed Doors (RES-000-220854) which utilized a combination of interdisciplinary and innovatory methods to examine practices of intimacy in families.

Working with colleagues Esther Dermott (University of Bristol) and Brid Featherstone (Open University), I recently completed a pilot project funded by the British Academy Fragile Fathering: Negotiating Intimacy and Risk in parenting practice (SG110454).

I am a member of two research centres at The Open University: the Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance (CCIG), and the ERSC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), theme 4, Cultural Values and Politics.

PhD supervision

Two Charter Studentships are affiliated to the Enduring Love? research project. I am co-supervising both of these students. Thierry Chessum is researching the experiences of older men in long-term couple relationships. Danni Pearson is researching young same-sex couples in long-term relationships. Her studentship is sponsored by Relate.

I welcome applications from new students in areas related to my research interests including studies on families, personal relationships, intimacy, emotions, sexuality and gender. .

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.


Gabb J. (with J. Fink) (2015) Couple Relationships in the 21st Century. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gabb J. (2008) Researching Intimacy in Families. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 211pp, ISBN 978-0-230-52722-5. Winner of the 2009 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial prize for the best sole-authored first book in sociology in the UK.


Gabb J. (with M.Klett-Davies, J. Fink and M. Thomae) (2013) Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century. Survey Findings Report, Milton Keynes: The Open University, ISBN 978-1-78007-951-6.

Journal articles

Gabb J. and Singh R. (2014) ‘Reflections on the challenges of understanding racial, cultural and sexual differences in couple relationship researchJournal of Family Therapy, DOI: 10.1111/1467-6427.12044.

Gabb J. and Singh R. (2014) ‘The uses of emotion maps in research and clinical practice with families and couples: Methodological innovation and critical inquiry’, Family Process, DOI: 10.1111/famp.12096. 

Gabb J. (with N. Moore, A. Church and N. Ravenscroft) (2014) ‘Growing intimate private publics: Everyday utopia in the nature cultures of a young lesbian and bisexual women’s allotment’, Feminist Theory 15: 327 DOI: 10.1177/1464700114545324.

Gabb J. (2013) ‘Embodying risk: managing father–child intimacy and the display of nudity in families’, Sociology, Vol. 47(4): 639–654.

Gabb J. (2011) 'Family Lives and Relational Living: Taking Account of Otherness' Sociological Research Online, Vol. 16 (4), 2011

Gabb J. and E. B. Silva (2011) 'Introduction to Critical Concepts: Families, Intimacies and Personal Relationships', Sociological Research Online Vol. 16 (4), 2011

Gabb J. (2010) 'Home Truths: Ethical Issues in Family Research', Qualitative Research, Vol. 10(4): 461-478.

Gabb J. (2009) 'Researching Family Relationships: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach', Methodological Innovations Online, Vol. 4(2): 37-52.

Book chapters

Gabb J. (2012) ‘Qualitative Research on LGBT-Parent Families’ in A. E. Goldberg and K. R. Allen (eds.) LGBT-Parent Families: Innovations in Research and Implications for Practice, New York: Springer, pp.324-342.

Gabb J. (2012) ‘The Affect of Methods’ in S. Hines and Y. Taylor (eds.), Sexualities: Past Reflections, Future Directions, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.32-51.

Gabb J. (2011) ‘Troubling Displays: The Affect of Gender, Sexuality and Class’ in E. Dermott and J. Seymour (eds.) Displaying Families. A New Concept for the Sociology of Family Life, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 38-60.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Last updated: 4 December 2014